One week, two games and a three week grind for the New Orleans Saints.
By Dean Mullen
While the New Orleans Saints have just come off a 26-20 road loss against the Rams, the next 10 days could impact the entire season.
This Sunday, the 8-3 New Orleans Saints draw the Carolina Panthers at home for a critical NFC South matchup. Carolina (8-3) is red hot at the moment and will be looking to avenge their Week 3 loss in Carolina.
At the same time, the Atlanta Falcons (7-4) have also caught fire. After the Saints play the Panthers, the NFL did no favors for the Black and Gold.
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The Saints are going to have to prepare for a quick three day break and then be ready for the Atlanta Falcons in a primetime, Thursday Night Football game. The stakes for these two games are extremely high.
The Saints could be 10-3 and closing in on clinching a playoff berth or 8-5 with pressure to win out. And even if the Saints do take care of business, the schedule still provides a challenge.
The New York Jets (4-7) are better than most people thought they’d be. And they’ll come to New Orleans Dec. 17. The Saints will get Atlanta AGAIN on Christmas Eve at home. Then, the Black and Gold end their season in Tampa on New Year’s Eve against the Buccaneers. The Bucs are always a tough out for the Saints regardless of record.
Ironically, when the schedule was released, the Rams were not looked at as playoff contenders before the season. Many fans probably figured the game in Los Angeles was very winnable.
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Obviously, just about everyone missed the boat on that one. Of course, those same fans would have loved to be sitting at 8-3 right about now though too. Not many had the Saints winning more than eight or nine games.
The Saints are in a great position. However, the heavy loaded NFC South schedule towards the end of the season presents plenty of challenges every single week. The Saints may need an 11-5 record to secure a Wild Card berth. A 3-2 finish is no given. But beating Carolina this Sunday would be a nice start.